SPONSORS of this week’s World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions event in China are less than impressed that world number one and two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have sidestepped the tournament.
The two biggest names in golf were in China on Monday facing off against each other in a US$3 million exhibition match but now they have flown the coop.
McIlroy is watching girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play tennis in Bulgaria while Woods is “fulfilling corporate engagements” in Singapore.
“On the one hand we have by far and away the strongest field in Asia this year, 13 of the top 20 are here. But of course we are disappointed the top two are not here,” HSBC’s head of sponsorship Giles Morgan told the media this week.
“We are looking at a true world golf championship. As a sponsor we can provide the prize money and all of the wonderful facilities for spectators, customers, the media etc. But the one thing you need of course is the players.”
Despite the absence of the duo, a top field has assembled at the Mission Hills Golf Club in Guangdong.
Most of the rest of golf’s top ten will compete including, in order, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker.
Other notables include Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and defending champion Martin Kaymer.
As well as world No.6 Scott, the Aussie contingent includes
Marc Leishman, Marcus Fraser, Geoff Ogilvy, Brad Kennedy, Brendan Jones, Greg Chalmers, Scott Hend, Robert Allenby and John Senden.
The US$7 million tournament is in its eighth season and fourth as a WGC event. The winner will get credit for an official PGA Tour victory and, if a regular PGA Tour member, receive a three-year tour exemption. The prize money doesn’t count in the PGA Tour official earnings.
Australian TV Coverage
Fox Sports will cover the HSBC Champions live in Australia beginning 2pm to 7pm Thursday.
2012 World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions LeaderboardWGC – HSBC Champions Leaderboard